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BUSINESS NEWS


IAG boss Willie Walsh expects weak demand ‘well into the summer’


Carriers call for state aid as fleets all but grounded


Airlines in ‘truly critical’ position as governments ban travel. Ian Taylor reports


Airlines are demanding urgent state aid amid the meltdown in air traffic due to Covid-19 travel restrictions. Most leisure flights operating this


week were to repatriate passengers as one country after another declared travel bans or bars on overseas visitors and the EC suspended slot rules until June 30 to enable airlines to ground aircraft immediately. British Airways owner IAG


announced plans on Monday to cut capacity by 75% or more in April and May. The group will defer spending, offer voluntary leave, suspend


48 19 MARCH 2020


employment contracts and reduce work hours. Chief executive Willie Walsh


warned: “We expect demand to remain weak until well into the summer.” Walsh will delay standing down


as planned to ensure management stability “in the near term”. Virgin Atlantic unveiled “drastic


measures to ensure cash is preserved and the future of the airline safeguarded”, including a near 80% reduction in flights by March 26 and 85% “at points in April”. The carrier also axed Heathrow-Newark services


permanently and asked staff “to take eight weeks’ unpaid leave over the next three months, with the cost spread over six months”. Virgin said unions had agreed to the move. The airline appealed to the


government to make “emergency credit facilities” of up to £7.5 billion available “to prevent credit card processors withholding payments”. Norwegian Air announced it


would cancel 85% of flights and lay off Continued on page 46 travelweekly.co.uk


BUSINESS NEWS


PICTURES: Shutterstock; Steve Parsons


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